By Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune reporter
6:23 PM EDT, July 20, 2014
Here are five little known things about 2014 Hall of Famers Greg Maddux of the Cubs and Braves and Frank Thomas of the White Sox.
• Began playing Little League baseball in Spain, where he lived (Madrid) from ages 4 to 10 because his father was stationed there in the Air Force.
• Wore the same jersey number (31) for the Cubs as fellow Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins. Their numbers were retired together at Wrigley Field May 3, 2009.
•In homage to Satchel Paige, his children are named Amanda Paige and Satchel Chase.
• Won 18 Gold Gloves (18!), the most of any player in history at any position during the 57 years the fielding award has been given.
• His earned-run averages in 1994 (1.56) and 1995 (1.63) were both the lowest in the major leagues since 1985, and they came at the start of baseball's steroid era. No pitcher since Walter Johnson in 1918-19 had consecutive seasons with ERAs that low, and they came at the end of baseball's dead ball era.
• White Sox broadcaster Ken Harrelson coined his "Big Hurt" nickname in 1991, Thomas' first full season, after a prodigious home run led Harrelson to say, "He put a big hurt on that baseball."
• His most impressive season, 1994, was cut short by the strike after 113 games. Projecting his numbers (Thomas played all 113 games) over a full season, they would come to his single-season career highs for home runs (54), runs (152) and RBI (144).
• On Thanksgiving Day 1977, when Thomas was 9, his 2-year-old sister Pamela died of leukemia. "It was sad. It affected me," Thomas said in a 1994 Tribune interview. "But it's something you don't look back on." Thomas, however, has been involved through his foundation in supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
• Thomas is the first Hall of Famer to have played more than half his games as a designated hitter.
• Coming out of high school, he was not among the 891 players taken in the 1986 draft, so he went to Auburn on a football scholarship, played 11 games as a freshman at tight end but was hurt early in his sophomore season and did not play again. After three seasons at Auburn, the Sox made him the seventh overall pick in the 1989 draft. He is the first player from the Southeastern Conference to make the baseball Hall of Fame.
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